The year 2018, no matter what happens in the future, will go down in history as a year of great change.
However, one thing that will remain unchanged is the cooperative’s obligation to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to its members. In 2019, that mission now also includes providing reliable and affordable high-speed internet to members and non-members.
In 2018, once our subsidiary Orange County Fiber was established, Orange County REMC acquired NetsurfUSA and CallsUSA and became internet service and telephone provider immediately upon closing. The expertise that came along with that acquisition played a large role in the electric cooperative successfully being granted $10.2 million dollars for the deployment of a fiber-to-the-home network for its members and expanding the existing wireless internet and telephone network. If 2018 was a year of change, then 2019, 2020, 2021 and the years to follow must be years of execution.
In 2019, we will complete the first phase of the fiber-to-the-home network and will begin working on the second phase. A map can be viewed at our website orangecountyfiber.coop.
The first phase will connect many members along the backbone route and members who live within the Roosevelt substation area, otherwise known as areas surrounding the town of Orleans. Phase II will deploy fiber to all members in the middle of our service territory, from Lawrence County to Crawford County. Phase II is expected to be approximately 60 percent complete by the end of 2019. Phases III and IV will follow until each member has the ability to connect to our fiber network.
Also, in 2019, we plan to continue the strategic maintenance and improvement of our electric system. Right-of-way clearing activities will occur in areas near Spring Mill State Park, just south of Orleans, and Valeene. Right-of-way spraying will occur in areas around French Lick and Spring Mill. Numerous line replacement projects are planned throughout the service territory. A big undertaking will include a three-phase construction project down Oak Grove Road.
Orange County REMC leadership does not take the responsibilities to implement these plans lightly. Staff members have committed to complete execution of the plan and have been nothing less than impressive in order to get us to this point. The board of directors continues to support and navigate the cooperative through these times of change with sound leadership and direction.
Being a part of such change is exciting, and it’s an honor to serve the membership. Back in December, I had the opportunity to hear Lou Holtz speak. His message centered around keeping everything you do simple by living by just four basic principles. One statement he made stood out to me: “Not everyone can be an All-American; not everyone can be first team. Everyone can be the very best they are capable of being.” The team here at Orange County REMC and Orange County Fiber will be the absolute best we can be, and I know that makes the future of our members bright.
Matthew C. Deaton